Services, Society & Partner Zone Issue 19

Working to Raise the Visibility of your Content

As well as employing the latest SEO technologies on SpringerLink, Springer works with the major abstracting and indexing services to ensure the widest possible dissemination of your content. Society & Partner Zone spoke with Dr. Guenther Eichhorn, Director, Abstracting & Indexing, Springer, to learn more.

Society & Partner Zone: How does Springer work with Abstracting & Indexing (A&I) services?

Dr. Guenther Eichhorn: In the print era, publishers used to send print copies to A&I services. Of course, this has changed drastically in the digital age as metadata is now sent electronically to these services in XML format. This is a far more accurate and quicker way for distributing information about our journals and books, and allows for automatic processing of article information.

Springer works with all relevant A&I services, keeping them informed of new journals that are relevant for their subject area. We monitor the indexing too, to make sure that our data is represented accurately and timely, and to resolve any problems.

Are there any specific rules or guidelines that must be adhered to when submitting a journal to an A&I service?

This varies widely for different A&I services. Most smaller A&I services just look at the subject matter of a journal to decide whether to include it in their indexing, so in these cases, application is as informal as sending an email and receiving a reply as to whether or not the new journal will be indexed.

Some of the larger A&I services are more selective and have more stringent rules for evaluating a journal. For example, PubMed and Scopus now require that journals ensure their authors declare any conflicts of interest and also include statements about ethical treatments of animals or human subjects, as appropriate. However, as these have been requirements for Springer authors for some time, it’s not something particularly new for us.

The Springer A&I team is very familiar with the requirements for every A&I service we work with and works with the journal editor to prepare accurate applications for the journal being submitted.

Google and Thomson Reuters ISI are probably the most well-known, and significant, indexes across all subject areas but which others do Springer work with?

There are over 300 A&I services, so I can’t list them all, but Google and Thomson Reuters, together with Scopus, are the most important ones that index all subject areas.

Most of the other A&I services are discipline specific and some of the larger ones include: Astrophysics Data System (Astronomy, Physics), Chemical Abstract Service (Chemistry), DBLP (Computer Sciences), INSPIRE (High Energy Physics), PubMed (Biomedicine), RePEc (Economics), Zentralblatt Mathematik (Mathematics).

Others include ISI’s Book Index which does not have selection quality criteria as such, but excludes certain book types, such as encyclopedias. I think that ISI Conference Proceedings Index will also become an important index for some areas of science, such as chemistry and biology. Several of the large commercial systems (e.g. EBSCO, ProQuest) also have many discipline specific databases under their umbrella.

As technology continues to bring new ways for content (both textual and non-textual) to be discovered, what challenges do you think this presents for abstracting and indexing services? How do you think they will adapt and evolve?

The evolving technology is a big challenge for A&I services. Currently, most of the indexing is done by processing the article metadata (title, authors, abstract, keywords, journal, volume, page). This works well for indexing text-based subject matter, but it does not help with indexing other material included with articles such as figures, data, video, interactive formulas, etc. There are efforts to develop techniques for indexing non-textual material and I think we will see continuing efforts in this direction, but there is still a long way to go.

Another area currently being explored is better indexing of the textual material. There are already various techniques available for indexing full text and presenting it to the readers and I believe that we will see significant advances in this direction in the near future.

One A&I service (the ADS) has already implemented some of these new capabilities, both for discovering non-textual material (data, astronomical objects) and for better discovering textual material through analysis of citation and readership patterns.

Another effort is in developing improved visualization of the search results. We have seen interesting advances in this area too, and I expect significant new capabilities in the near future (e.g. Microsoft Academic Search author graphs).


Microsoft Academic Search author graphs

Finally, is there anything that a society can do to help improve its journal’s chance of being accepted by an A&I service?

Yes, there is. Societies need to select and publish the best research they can find. This may sound trivial, but it is the underlying issue as for all A&I services, their primary aim is to index the most important research. The better and more important the articles are in your journal, the better the chances of it being accepted by A&I services.

Societies should use rigorous peer review to make sure that they publish only the best science. And it is important that reviewers and the Editor in Chief are not afraid to reject articles that are not up to a high standard. Achieving and maintaining a high standard for article quality will not only help the journal get accepted in selective A&I services, but it will also help increase the reputation of the journal, attract citations to the journal and therefore attract readers.